A Donegal humanitarian worker is among the 23 Irish citizens in Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover. 

Mary Ellen McGroarty from Mountcharles is the Director of the United Nations World Food Programme in Afghanistan.

She continues to work during the emergency and is determined to stay.

Taliban fighters stormed the capital Kabul on August 15th after a country-wide advance taking control of towns and cities. There has been fear and chaos as thousands of people desperately tried to flee the country.

The situation on the ground, McGroarty said, is a “humanitarian catastrophe unfolding before our eyes.”

Afghanistan is facing its third severe drought and the raging conflict is bringing tens of thousands of people into Kabul, she said.

“We’re closely monitoring the situation, we’re very conscious of the rising needs of Afghanistan,” she told RTÉ radio’s Today show.

Close care is being taken to protect female workers with the programme, due to the Taliban’s extreme ideology against women’s rights.

“Our priority is to deliver services safely to the people and to make sure our staff are safe,” McGroarty said.

The priority for her team now is gaining unimpeded humanitarian access.

On Sunday, McGroarty made an appeal for international aid on RTE News: “We urge the international community to support the humanitarian effort now. The United Nations are making it a priority to be able to stay and deliver. We are grossly underfunded. WFP alone needs 200 million before the end of the year. We need to get food in quickly, we are approaching a very severe winter in Afghanistan.”